My favorite class this semester: GEOL 241 – Energy Systems

greg Viterbi Class 0 Comments

So this semester, I am taking 4 engineering classes and 1 general education class. Ironically, my favorite class by far this semester is actually my general education class. This class, as mentioned in the title, is about the different energy systems that are at work in a modern society, and how as the supply of energy resources and the technology change, so will our energy systems.

We started off the semester discussing different forms of energy and the laws of thermodynamics. This content was pretty easy for me, because I have been learning about these concepts over and over again in every engineering class I have taken. However, we then starting analyzing energy production and consumption from a financial perspective, and I started to really become engaged. It’s interesting to look at statistical analyses of how energy consumption is related to a country’s GDP or how energy consumption is related to general happiness/quality of life. Backing off from the dense science of this material, and looking at the big picture of how this world relies on energy is intriguing and thought-provoking.


Human Development Index (quality of life) vs. Energy Consumption for different countries

The most interesting lecture so far this semester was discussing the idea of peak oil – that the amount of fossil fuels on this earth is finite and that someday, we are going to run out. Thinking about a world after fossil fuels sparks discussion of what plans society can make now to help prepare for this inevitable future. Also, the professor was making some rough estimates of how many more years the world could rely on fossil fuels. During this analysis, he was pointing out that a lot of people do not consider or acknowledge the exponentially growing nature of society. Every year, society consumes more and more, which means that the end of fossil fuels is coming even faster than we might think. I really enjoy discussing these concepts, because I want to spend my life working on developing alternative forms of energy for the prosperity of future generations.

The temporary luxury of fossil fuels...

The temporary luxury of fossil fuels…

Exponential growth sucks

Exponential growth…

I think that society has to look beyond tomorrow, and I think that this class does an amazing job at analyzing future energy solutions to a current energy problem.

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